5 Ways to Use Your Phone Less

This probably doesn't come as a surprise, but mobile phone usage is growing among U.S. adults, up from 248 million in 2021 to over 253 million in 2023, according to Insider Intelligence. What's more, the amount of time spent daily on mobile devices increased by 39.3% in 2022, with Americans checking their phones on average 96 times a day—in other words, about once every ten minutes.

The problem is, there are a lot of negative effects associated with mobile phone usage, such as increased pressure on one's neck from the ongoing downward bend while perusing our phones (otherwise known as "text neck"), distracted driving, sleep disruptions, concentration problems and eye strain, not to mention the more subtle impact phone addiction has on relationships.

That said, our smartphones provide countless advantages. So while no one's suggesting you break up with your phone, there are some strategic ways to cut back, even just a little. Try a couple of the following strategies to reduce phone time and improve your health.

1. Keep it out of reach. If our smartphones were a little bit less accessible, we wouldn't be as tempted to reach for them every 10 minutes. Try some simple strategies such as keeping it in your backpack or purse, or on a table or counter that's a few steps away. When it's time for bed, consider keeping your mobile phone in another room altogether, a surefire way to improve your sleep quality.

2. Monitor usage with an app. While this sounds counterintuitive because it requires using your phone, consider downloading an app to track and evaluate your mobile usage. Like most things, once you accurately measure it, you can better control it. Getting a realistic picture of how much time you're really spending on your mobile phone will allow you to do away with some activities and use it less.

3. Do a 24-hour cleanse. If you've ever done a dietary cleanse, you know that it can be a great way to jumpstart healthier eating habits. The same holds true for a mobile cleanse. See if you can go 24 hours without using your phone at all—this will help you realize that you don't need it as much as you think and that life without it is indeed possible. You may even find value in some old-school habits, like stopping by to chat with a friend versus texting them, or reading a print copy of your favorite newspaper.

4. Limit push notifications. Oftentimes, it's our phone reaching out to us that increases usage. Instead of a constant barrage of beeps and buzzes, go to your privacy notifications and limit the number of push notifications from various apps. You can also choose to have them delivered in summary format once a day.

5. Designate specific times for social media. Mobile phone usage has skyrocketed in large part thanks to social media. While social sites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn help keep us informed and connected, they can also become rabbit holes of wasted time. Try to control your social media usage by limiting it to certain times of the day and for specific timeframes.

The above steps will help you reclaim time for other activities while maximizing all the benefits our smartphones bring to our lives. 

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